True ivy plants are evergreen vines that are members of the Hedera family, such as English ivy (Hedera helix), Persian ivy (Hedera colchina) and Algerian ivy (Hedera canariensis). Ivy plants can grow laterally as ground covers and reach a height of about 6 to 8 inches. They also provide excellent erosion control on slopes, if necessary. If desired, you can also grow them vertically as climbing vines. Plant ivy plants in the spring after the last frost.
Choose a location in a shady area to grow the ivy plants. Leaves can burn in the sun, especially in climates with hot summers. On hills, choose the north and east side of hills for the best growth. If you want your ivy to climb, again, choose the north- or east-facing side of a wall, fence or trellis.
Cultivate the top 6 inches of soil with 2 to 3 inches of organic matter, such as compost or peat moss. Ivy plants prefer rich, well-draining soil.
Plant ivy to the same depth as it was planted in the nursery container. Space plants 12 inches apart to fill in the space quickly. To save money, plant ivy plants 18 to 24 inches apart. They will fill in the space in about two years.
Water the ivy plants with 1 inch of water and cover the site with 2 inches of organic mulch, such as leaf mold. Mulch helps the soil retain water, especially for the first establishment year.